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Rare Bird Alert: May 6, 2011

The amazing influx of extralimital birds from last week has not abated in the slightest, with even the west coast and Canada getting more into the mix this time around.  Between the possibility of incredible vagrants showing up anywhere on the continent and the low murmuring excitement of spring migration, this has shaped up to be a great few weeks for birders.

Big news out of California, which seems poised to add another species to its already impressive state list with a Common Crane (ABA Code 4) in Del Norte County.  Good birds are present in the south of the state too, with a Sooty Tern at Bolsa Chica in Orange County and a Murphy’s Petrel (ABA Code 3) found and photographed on a deepwater pelagic out of Los Angeles.

Farther north on the Pacific coast, British Columbia is also seeing some good birds.  A Black Phoebe found late last week in Vancouver would be the 6th record of the species in Canada. Also in Vancouver, a Lesser Goldfinch is the first record for the island, and a possible, but as yet unverified, Little Stint (ABA Code 3) was reported in Chilliwack.

A bookend to all the Mountain Bluebirds reported in the east this spring is an Eastern Bluebird north of Rosetown, Saskatchewan.

A Tricolored Heron in Chatfield State Park, Douglas County, is an excellent bird for Colorado.

The Rufous-backed Robin (ABA Code 3) parade continues in Arizona.  The most recent bird was reported from Patagonia.

New Mexico’s thrushes are more northern in nature, with a Varied Thrush reported from Bernalillo, Sandoval County.  A Baltimore Oriole is also present in Doña Ana, Doña Ana County.

A Mangrove Cuckoo at Smith Oaks highlights the great birds moving through High Island this week.  In the Valley, an unverified Green-breasted Mango was reported from Hidalgo Pumphouse, Hidalgo County, but not refound. A Greater Pewee was discovered at Big Bend National Park.

Kansas’s third Painted Redstart in far southwest Morton County highlights birding in the Sunflower State.  On the opposite side of the state, a Townsend’s Solitaire is reported in Johnson County, outside of Kansas City.

Acoss the border in Missouri, a Eurasian Wigeon has been present most of the week at Squaw Creek NWR in Holt County.

A Western Tanager reported from Dickinson County, Iowa, is an excellent bird for that state.

An odd combination of birds is present on Lake Superior in Duluth, Minnesota.  A lingering King Eider is sharing space with a vagrant Laughing Gull.

Illinois’s second record of Cassin’s Sparrow was reported late in the week in Lake County, not more than a mile south of the Wisconsin border, where it would be a first state record.

Not that Wisconsin birders should be jealous, as a trio of great birds is present there this week, starting with both a Painted Bunting and a Black-throated Gray Warbler (Wisconsin’s 6th) in Dane County, and a Black-billed Magpie in Bayfield County.

Indiana hosts a Ruff (ABA Code 3) in Delaware County north of Muncie.

Seemingly annual in Ohio anymore thanks to the Biggest Week Festival, a Kirtland’s Warbler, this one in Columbus, is still a great bird anywhere in migration. Even better though, is an apparently wild Gargany (ABA Code 4) in Hamilton County.

A Lark Sparrow  was discovered in Clermont, Bullitt County, Kentucky, and next door in Tennessee, a Purple Gallinule has been found in Hamilton County.

Louisiana joins the elite group of states with extralimital Cassin’s Sparrows this spring, as their 2nd state record comes from Bossier Parish this week.

Great birds continue in Florida this week starting with another Fork-tailed Flycatcher, this time at Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West.  A Red-footed Booby (ABA Code 4) is present Key Biscayne for the second straight year, and a Bahama Mockingbird (ABA Code 4) is reported from Hugh Taylor Birch State Park in Broward County.

South Carolina hosts a pair of nesting Scissor-tailed Flycatchers in Greenville County for the second straight year.

A Gray Kingbird was photographed from Brunswick County in extreme southern North Carolina.

Maryland has a pair of excellent birds in a Purple Gallinule in Montgomery County and a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in Hartford County.

A Purple Gallinule is also reported in Erie County, Pennsylvania, this week.  Could it portend another irruptive year for this colorful rail?

A Curlew Sandpiper (ABA Code 3) from Cumberland County highlights New Jersey’s birding week.  An Anhinga from Cape May is also notable.

New England and Maritime Canada had an excellent week, starting with Connecticut’s shorebird bonanza headlined by a Ruff (ABA Code 3) in Stratford and a remarkable Buff-breasted Sandpiper in Hartford, the state’s first spring record.

Next door in Rhode Island, a Yellow-headed Blackbird in North Kingston is a great bird anywhere in the east.

A small group of exceptionally sneaky Black-bellied Whistling Ducks are ranging around Great Meadows NWR near Concord, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, this week. This would be the second record for Massachusetts.  Also interesting was a White-winged Dove reported from Newburyport, Essex County.

From Vermont comes a briefly staying Golden-crowned Sparrow in Norwich.  This is the second record for the state.

A vagrant Cattle Egret was photographed in Bangor, Maine this week.

Interesting reports from the Canadian Maritime provinces include a European Golden-Plover (ABA Code 4) seen in Fermeause, Newfoundland, and a pair of Brown Pelicans in Nova Scotia, one at Cape Sable Ialand and the second in Shelburne County.


The great reports this spring certainly show no signs of letting up.

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Nate Swick

Nate Swick

Editor, Social Media Manager at American Birding Association
Nate Swick is the editor of the American Birding Association Blog, social media manager for the ABA, and the host of the American Birding Podcast. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Danielle, and two young children. He is the author of Birding for the Curious and The ABA Field Guide to Birds of the Carolinas.
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